A New York man from Long Island was charged Tuesday with smuggling more than US$200,000 worth of wildlife in and out of the Solomon Islands.
This included deceased butterflies known as “birdwings,” which are known for their impressive size and bird-like flight.
According to prosecutors, Charles Limmer, 75, from Commack, allegedly conspired with others to sell smuggled moths, butterflies, cicadas and other insects online between October 2022 and September 2023.
Last month, Limmer allegedly posted two illegally obtained birdwing butterflies from the Solomon Islands for around $480, according to the indictment.
He attempted to conceal it by labeling the shipments as “decorative wall coverings,” “origami paper craft” and “wall decorations,” officials said. He also allegedly wrote to one of his conspirators, “Screw USFWS…They are a gang of Orangutans,” referring to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to the indictment.
Limmer’s attorney, Renee Wong, would not comment.
The Lacey Act requires wildlife shipments to be accurately labeled. U.S law also requires that anyone who exports or imports live and dead wildlife have a license and declare wildlife to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to prosecutors, Limmer’s business had a license to import and export wildlife, but the U.S Fish and Wildlife service suspended the license last year. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said they hoped to retain 1,000 butterflies, moths and other insects that have been allegedly trafficked illegally.